Adults with autism are increasingly showing up in emergency rooms, with a new study finding that such visits more than doubled over a five-year period.

In an analysis of emergency room visits across the country, researchers found that individuals with autism ages 22 to 64 accounted for 2,549 per 100,000 admissions in 2006. That figure skyrocketed to 6,087 per 100,000 admissions by 2011.

The findings, published in the April issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, are based on data collected through the federal government’s Nationwide Emergency Department Sample.

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The biggest chunk of ER visits from adults with autism – 24 percent – were related to injury, the study found. In addition, 15 percent of visits were due to psychiatric issues and 16 percent stemmed from a non-psychiatric disorder like cancer, diabetes or epilepsy.

In cases where adults with autism visited the emergency room, researchers noted that they were more likely to be admitted to the hospital as compared to other patients. What’s more, average charges for visits from those on the spectrum were 2.3 times higher.

“Our study sheds light on the need for better guidelines and greater support for incorporating ASD related training of physicians and other healthcare providers who usually report lack of self-perceived competency in treating and diagnosing adults with ASD,” wrote Rini Vohra of West Virginia University and colleagues in their findings.

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